|SPORE Bulletin of the CTA No. 57 - June 1995 (CTA - Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, 1995)|
Over the past few years CTA has collaborated with other organizations in a training programme focusing on improving the communication capabilities of ACP countries in the field of agriculture. The main aim of the programme is to bridge the gap between research and development by providing trainees with the communication skills needed to transfer knowledge and technologies more effectively.
In the course of last year, CTA sponsored or jointly organized four workshops on scientific writing, two on desktop publishing and one on the production of extension materials.
Scientific writing workshop for agricultural researchers
In Africa, workshops were organized in Benin (14-25 November) and Kenya (9-20 January 1995). These workshops provide information on publishing procedures, choosing appropriate journals and liaising with the editors, planning and writing papers, and oral and poster presentations.
The workshop in Benin was attended by 35 participants from 15 African countries (12 anglophone and 23 francophone). It was run in two languages, with two sets of resource persons, an approach which has proved effective in West Africa where many English and French-speaking scientists are working alongside each other on the same topic. The Kenya workshop was held at ICRAF headquarters and attended by 27 participants from eight countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. The participants suggested that these courses should be longer to cover all topics adequately, and that some scientists should be trained to run similar courses at national or regional level.
The workshops in the Caribbean were part of a series being organized by CARDI and sponsored by CTA. They cover the principles of communication, writing style for technical publications, and scientific conventions in data presentation, and put the emphasis on practical exercises. The participants included researchers and trainers in agricultural research institutions, government departments the private sector and regional organizations.
The workshop in Belize (22-25 November) was attended by 13 researchers from the Belize College of Agriculture, CARDI, the ministry and the private sector. The Jamaica workshop (28 November - 1 December) was attended by 16 participants from the University of West Indies, CARDI, the government departments and the private sector. In their evaluation reports, the participants suggested that these workshops should be longer and that courses on specific subjects such as biometry, data handling and oral presentations should be organized.
Desktop publishing courses
With current developments in electronic media, desktop publishing is now the most cost-effective system for producing printed materials. Participants in the desktop publishing courses in which CTA is involved are editors and publications production staff from research and development institutes, government departments and NGOs.
The course in Nigeria (1-20 August) was held at NEARLS headquarters and was sponsored entirely by CTA. It was attended by 10 participants from several Nigerian agricultural research institutes. To qualify for the course, the participants had to have prior knowledge of word-processing and access to appropriate equipment in their institutes. The course modules were followed by practical exercises and a test. In the Senegal course (12-30 September) sponsored by CTA and ARESAF and attended by 15 participants from francophone countries in Africa, the emphasis was on hands-on experience. Each participant had access to a personal computer and a printer. This enabled participants to practise using the applications covered in the course until they felt confident that they had mastered them.
Agroforestry is a modern word for an ancient skill. It is the
system of land management in which
perennial woody species (trees, shrubs and others) are intentionally grown on land which is also being used for crop cultivation and/or livestock. Throughout the world, research has continued with the aim of improving agroforestry systems. It is now time to use the help of extensionists to transfer the results to small-scale farmers.
The Agromisa Association receives many enquiries for information about agroforestry from all parts of the world. It is partly as a response to these requests that an agroforestry manual has been published with support from CTA. The manual outlines the basic principles of agroforestry and presents the options and limitations of the system.
Many different techniques have been evolved and, of these, five are presented in the manual: live hedges; intercropping; windbreaks; improved fallow; home gardens. None should be adopted exactly as described but should be adapted to suit local conditions.
Agroforestry by Chris Brils, Paulien van de Ende, Bertken de
Leede and Peter Paap. 1994 AGRODOK No. 16 60pp
AGROMISA, PB41, 6700 M Wageningen, THE NETHERLANDS and CTA.
Also published in French. Available from CTA.
In 1987, fifty natural and social scientists met for five days at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, UK, for a workshop entitled Farmers and Agricultural Research: Complementary Methods. This brought together professionals who had been working in collaboration with farmers on research into farming methods. They shared their ideas and methods and evaluated the means by which they should go forward from that point. The particular focus was on resource-poor farmers and their systems, upon whom a large proportion of the rural population depend. The papers and discussions from this workshop were edited and presented in the book Farmer first: farmer innovation and agricultural research (Chambers, Pacey and Thrupp).
In October 1992 a follow-up workshop was held with the objective of examining how far agricultural research and extension practice had come since the first conference. Beyond farmer first contains an edited selection of the case studies and discussion papers prepared for their workshop. The book is divided into three main parts, following the pattern of the workshop. After the foreword by Robert Chambers, the co-author of the first book, Part I deals with theoretical reflections on knowledge, and power and practice, which is followed by a detailed discussion of methodological innovations, applications and challenges in Part II. The book concludes with an examination of processes for transforming institutions and changing policies (Part Ill).
The book shows that since the time of farmer first there has been a significant shift of emphasis and a radical rethinking of participatory approaches to farming systems, and in the application of both indigenous and western science-based technological knowledge.
Beyond farmer first: rural people's knowledge, agricultural research and extension practice edited by lan Scoones and John Thompson 1994 301pp ISBN 85339 250 2 published by IT Publications Ltd, 103-105 Southampton Flow, London WC1B 4HH, UK Available from CTA, who provided support for both the workshop and the publication of the book.
In 1988, CTA launched its Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) project, a literature service for senior ACP research scientists to allow them to keep abreast of the latest scientific and technical information relevant to their field of research. The purpose of this service is to make international literature more widely available and to help the scientists to integrate into the world-wide agricultural research community.
According to the evaluation carried out during 1994 by a team of consultants from the six ACP regions, access to scientific and technical information continues to be a major handicap to agricultural research in the ACP countries. Scientific journals have become too expensive for most national research institutions and even in countries which are able to subscribe to these journals, access is usually limited to scientists located close to the main library.
The objectives of the Forum organized in Mauritius from 5 - 9 December, 1994 by CTA, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Food and Agricultural Research Council, were to review the conclusions and recommendations of the evaluation and to make proposals for strategic actions for the development of the CTA SDI service.
The meeting was attended by 18 policy makers, research and information managers from ACP countries, and by 15 representatives of regional and international organizations. It was recommended that the SDI service should be continued and extended to meet the needs of research programmes or teams, the beneficiaries being identified in collaboration with research managers at the national level. The meeting noted that although SDI may appear an expensive service, the benefits by far exceed the cost, if the service is properly targeted and utilized. Finally, it was recommended that CTA should develop a strategy plan for SDI that includes gradual decentralization of services to the regions.
Agricultural technologies for market-led development opportunities in the 1990s is a compilation of 19 articles written by experts in technology development, management and application. Business executives and practitioners document their experiences in the application of technology to small, medium and large enterprises, while researchers analyze technology transfers and their impact on changing relationships between producers and consumers. Authors examine the links between technology and producers; technology and consumers; and technology and small business. Several important lessons are presented in each chapter.
Community-based and environmentally safe pest management is the proceedings of a Workshop held at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), Nairobi, May 1991. The Symposium was an important milestone because it contributed towards a better understanding of the components required for developing sustainable community-based pest management, with a large proportion of the papers focused on the cultural and socio-economic context for effective pest and vector management. The conference affirmed that the small farmer sector is one of the most important in the African economy; and emphasised the need for it to be recognized and supported by all concerned so that it can realize its full potential as a primary productive community.
Agricultural technologies for market-led development opportunities in the 1990s World Bank Technical Paper No 204 edited by S Barghouti, E Cromwell and A Pritchard 1993 167pp ISBN 0 8213 2462 4 available from CTA
Community-based and environmentally safe pest management edited by R K Saini and P T Haskell 1993 199pp ISBN 929064 062 6 available from CTA